Feb 5, 2009

The Hold Steady @ Metro Theatre

They came for a good time. They left changed. They came for a great time. They left inspired. They came to see if the spirit of rock and roll was still alive. They left knowing that it is. You don't attend a Hold Steady show, you are a Hold Steady show. Passive bystanding is not the thing. Singing. Dancing. Being. Living. They are the thing. If Wednesday night at the Metro Theatre proved anything, it proved that Craig Finn and company are holding the torch. The torch of hard driving, hard drinking, literate rock and roll.

I really wanted to see this band. In a bad way. My excitement metre was on high. What would they open with though. It was friggin' "Positive Jam". The first song from the first album! A perfect start to the Hold Steady story. Minneapolis! Holly! Charlemagne! Gideon! Oh yeah, this was going to be special. Then they tore open our mouths and shoved joy down it, with "Constructive Summer" being particularly exciting. At this stage the audience was in full dance mode, with bodies flying around the room. If there was one complaint of an otherwise stellar night it was some fans were a bit too rowdy. Several times I had elbows in my head and my feet trodden on. Hey, I am all for enthusiasm, but it doesn't hurt to be aware of other audience members' personal space. Anyway, the music was too good to ignore and a massive highlight was on the way. "One For The Cutters" was awesome and everything else. "Sometime she parties with townies...". "Don't Let Me Explode" was amazingness in following. In fact I think some of my favourite songs of the night were the slower ones. The ones with quiet majesty that allow us to hear the lyrics of Mr Finn in full. Especially as the sound was a little low in the vocals, meaning the big rock numbers were sometimes a bit over powering.

We kept flowing right along. How can anyone not dance to "Massive Nights"? Or "Party Pit" for that matter? "Cheyenne Sunrise" was simply bliss on a platter and "Lord, I'm Discouraged" was so good I think I found manna, or something of a similar likeness. This song also featured a killer guitar solo from Tad Kubler on double neck guitar. Wow, twice and more. Kubler was great by the way, as was the whole band. Especially the sartorially dressed Franz Nicolay. He of the moustache was resplendent in a white suit. All the while drinking red wine from a bottle. But we all know who the centre is. Craig Finn. The man is a wonder. He has this wide eyed enthusiasm to each performance. He doesn't live on every word. He lives on every vowel and consonant. Making sure he delivers each line directly to the audience. When he is not singing, he is mouthing the previous line into the crowd. He seriously wants us to feel and know what he is singing about. If we don't feel it, he's not doing his job. I am sure he made eye contact with me at least twice. That would probably apply for all that were in his sight. A wise friend (my girl) said he has a similar stage presence to John Darnielle. If John Darnielle decided to start a rock band.

The five songs that closed the set were just explosive. If "Stuck Between Stations" didn't have the ears ringing, then "Your Little Hoodrat Friend" completed the job. But it was the last two songs that were nearly perfect. "Stay Positive" is as great as the message it espouses, whilst "Slapped Actress" is now my favorite song. "We'll make our own movies"! Yes we will Craig. Yes we will. The heroes then returned to give us more. "First Night" melted us away and "How A Resurrection Really Feels" was blissfully beautiful. We thought that this would be the perfect end, but this glorious song turned into "Killer Parties". Epicness ensued as this seminal tune twisted its way into our hearts. Craig then launched into his now customary spiel about the connection between band and audience. How much they love playing. How much they love us. Oh, how much we love them. They fill us with SO MUCH JOY. This is why the rock was forged. Why the roll was formed. Why the song became us and we became the song. "And the sing-along songs will be our scriptures"

Set List
Positive Jam
Sequestered In Memphis
Constructive Summer
Cattle & The Creeping Things
You Can Make Him Like You
Yeah Sapphire
One For The Cutters
Don't Let Me Explode
Chicago Seemed Tired Last Night
Massive Nights
Party Pit
Cheyenne Sunrise
Lord, I'm Discouraged
Stuck Between Stations
Chips Ahoy!
Your Little Hoodrat Friend
Stay Positive
Slapped Actress

First Night
Ask Her For Adderall
How A Resurrection Really Feels>Killer Parties


  • At February 05, 2009 , Anonymous Tim said...

    awesome review, it was a really great night. i too had a minor problem with one particular person in the crowd...a guy in a blue singlet with a big red afro who barged his way up to the front, knew none of the songs but was loud, rude and an idiot. besides that, it was a brilliant night and the set-list was pretty much flawless.

  • At February 05, 2009 , Blogger Cole and Emily said...

    I can't wait to see these guys Sunday.


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